The Typing Room, Bethnal Green
Birthdays are always a good excuse to push the boat out a bit, so this year I chose The Typing Room for a little celebration dinner. How this place isn't Michelin starred is beyond me, as chef Lee Westcott (Great British Menu, Masterchef) is doing everything right. Situated in Bethnal Green's Town Hall Hotel, the surroundings are certainly grandiose enough. There's a good little bar to sit and have an aperitif at first, too, which makes a lot of their own spirits and has a cocktail list to make you feel very put out if you happen to be pregnant, like I was.
The restaurant itself is beautiful with vast proportions, lots of marble, stripped back decor and an open kitchen. The whole feel is welcoming and actually quite chilled out with non-stuffy staff and friendly service. There are two choices for dinner of either the five or seven course tasting menu, at £60 and £75pp respectively. We opted for the former and picked a dish off the seven courser to share too, because it sounded interesting.
Here it is:
First, 'Snacks'. Such a humble term for such incredible cooking - and far more generous than most amuse bouche type courses too. We had crispy fish skin topped with droplets of cod brandade and oyster...
These fun takes on an onion bhaji with raita and mango...
These oyster leaves with turbot roe taramasalata (a personal favourite) - and yes the leaves do taste exactly like oyster!
Also, this pig head dish was rich and unctuous and everything you wanted it to be, along with a decent crunch from the outside crumb. Yum.
Then, onto starters proper. This was the Isle of White tomatoes and ricotta salad with chamomile and almonds. The least exciting of all the dishes, I'd say:
Next, one of the Typing Room's signature dishes: the yeasted cauliflower with raisins, mint and capers. I shan't include my photo as it's more dire than the rest of them, but a quick google image search will show you how actually lovely it was in real life with perfectly contrasting tanginess and sweetness.
This smoked eel dish with bread consomme was absolutely out of this world and one of the best things I've eaten. We all agreed it was a definite highlight:
It's fair to say we were pretty full by now, but unbelievably there was plenty more to come. Like this duck heart and crispy pork belly dish which appeared and was also insanely delicious. The duck hearts had a good iron-rich flavour and the textures worked beautifully, so we managed to scoff it all:
Lastly (for the mains), the duckling dish with mustard and runner beans which is in the title shot. Stomachs are positively groaning by now.
Thankfully, pudding was light, zingy and just about manageable. Here's a blurry version of the sheep's yoghurt with apple and dill dish. The dill was a surprising element and took a little getting used to, but really gave it a verdent herby angle that helped to tone down some of the sweetness and was perfect for a boiling hot summer's day (this was heatwave territory).
The bill came in at just under £90 a head for an aperitif, the five courses plus a cheeky one from the seven courser, and an interesting bottle of white Beaujolais to share between three. Of course then there was all manner of petit fours (one Snickers type thing that was fantastic). No wonder I looked eight months pregnant by the end ;-)